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Archive for December, 2013

Story, Wyoming

Posted by graywacke on December 28, 2013

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2072; A Landing A Day blog post number 499.

Dan –  After an 8/9 run, I can’t complain too heartily about this OSer landing in . . . WY; 73/66; 8/10; 148.6.

 As always, I’ll start with my regional landing map:


Followed up by my closer-in landing map:


I’ll back up a little so you can see that I’m between Buffalo & Sheridan, just east of the Big Horn Mountains:


By the way, back in 1974, I was in geology field camp (part of my Master’s Degree program at Kent State).  Our field camp (which is like the geologists’ version of military boot camp) was based in the Black Hills of SD.  However, one weekend, we headed west across WY and, after stopping at Devil’s Tower (of “Close Encounters” fame), we went to a hotel in Buffalo.  The next day, we headed west on Route 16 up into the Big Horn Mountains, and took a hike up along a stream, supposedly keeping track of all of the glacial features that we saw. 

 Well, all I remember are the mosquitos.  Never before, never since, have I been so brutally accosted.  I distinctly remember looking down at one arm, and seeing 10 or so mosquitos, biting away.  Of course, I began to slap like crazy.  After killing the skeeters lined up on my arm, I looked down at my other arm (the one involved in the slapping).  There were now 10 or so of the little buggers on that arm.  Slap slap slap slap slap slap slap slap slap slap.  Back to the other arm. Slap slap slap slap slap slap slap slap slap slap.

 Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

 The only break in the cycle was to crazily slap my face when I had a chance.  I remember a whole bunch of us gave up and just started running as fast as we could down the trail to get to the cars.  Glacial features??  What glacial features??

 Moving right along . . . to my Google Earth (GE) shot:


I landed in the foothills of the Big Horns.  Of course, I zoomed back a little more to get a look at the mountains:


The stream at the bottom of the slope below my landing is the South Piney Ck, which flows of course, to the Piney Ck; on to the Clear Ck; to the Powder R (11th hit); to the Yellowstone R (52nd hit); to the Missouri R (378th hit); to the MM (815th hit).

 Here’s a Panoramio shot of the South Piney by Lifting Heavy (taken about two thirds of a mile northeast of my landing:

 lifting heavy s piney

Moving right along to Story.  Guess what?  There’s no story in Story.  So I was looking around Story, and saw that the erstwhile Fort Phil Kearny used to be nearby:

 GE Ft Phil Kearny (1)

Before we continue, it’s important that everyone pronounce Kearny correctly.  It’s CAR – knee (more about why I care about the pronunciation later).

 There was much drama right here in the greater Story area, back in the day.  You absolutely must read this piece from History.com (specifically, this day in History – December 21, 1866).  It is quite the story . . .

Tensions in the region started rising in 1863, when John Bozeman blazed the Bozeman Trail, a new route for emigrants traveling to the Montana gold fields. Bozeman’s trail was of questionable legality since it passed directly through sacred hunting grounds that the government had promised to the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851.

Thus when Colorado militiamen murdered more than two hundred peaceful Cheyenne (about two thirds of whom were women and children) during the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864, the Indians began to take revenge by attacking whites all across the Plains, including the emigrants traveling the Bozeman Trail. The U.S. government responded by building a series of protective forts along the trail; the largest and most important of these was Fort Phil Kearney, erected in 1866 in north-central Wyoming.

Indians under the leadership of Red Cloud and Crazy Horse began to focus their attacks on Fort Phil Kearney, constantly harassing the soldiers and raiding their wood and supply parties. On December 6, 1866, Crazy Horse discovered to his surprise that he could lead a small detachment of soldiers into a fatal ambush by dismounting from his horse and fleeing as if he were defenseless. Struck by the foolish impulsiveness of the soldiers, Crazy Horse and Red Cloud reasoned that perhaps a much larger force could be lured into a similar deadly trap.

On the bitterly cold morning of December 21, about 2,000 Indians concealed themselves along the road just north of Fort Phil Kearney. A small band made a diversionary attack on a party of woodcutters from the fort, and Commandant Colonel Henry Carrington quickly ordered Colonel Fetterman to go to their aid with a company of 80 troopers. Crazy Horse and 10 decoy warriors then rode into view of the fort. When Carrington fired an artillery round at them, the decoys ran away as if frightened. The party of woodcutters made it safely back to the fort, but Colonel Fetterman and his men chased after the fleeing Crazy Horse and his decoys, just as planned. The soldiers rode straight into the ambush and were wiped out in a massive attack during which some 40,000 arrows rained down on the hapless troopers. None of them survived.

With 81 fatalities, the Fetterman Massacre was the army’s worst defeat in the West until the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. Further Indian attacks eventually forced the army to reconsider its commitment to protecting the Bozeman Trail, and in 1868 the military abandoned the forts and pulled out. It was one of only a handful of clear Indian victories in the Plains Indian Wars.

 Here’s where Fettermen met his fate:

 GE Ft Phil Kearny

Wow.  It looks like I found the story in Story, and what a story.  Taken in the context of a good guy / bad guy narrative of righteous revenge, the Indians are undoubtedly the good guys, and their revenge is indeed righteous.

 Note that “Fetterman Massacre” is a white man’s term.  The Indians called the event the “Battle of the Hundred in the Hand.”

 I found some GE Panoramio shots of the battlefield.  This, by CMarks175 shows the battlefield monument up on top of the ridge.  I believe that this is the ridge over which the Indians lured Fettermen to the trap.

 fetterman ridge

Here’s a close-up of the monument, by Vasily Vlasov:

 vasily vlasov

Back to Phil Kearny.  When I saw “Fort Phillip Kearny” while researching this post, I immediately pronounced it correctly:  CAR-knee.  How did I know?  Because just across the Passaic River from Newark NJ is Kearny (named after the same Phil Kearny).

 I’m in the environmental field, and us Jersey environmental types all know Kearny.  Most of Kearny is residential, but then there’s this part of Kearny (known as South Kearny):

 s kearny nj

We’re looking north.  That’s the Passaic River to the west (with Newark at the left edge of the photo); the Hackensack River is to the east, and Jersey City is across the Hackensack.  There’s just a wee bit of contamination in South Kearny . . .

 Back to WY:  I’ll close with this Panoramio shot (by V. Vlasov) from the site of the Battle of the Hundred in the Hand, looking west towards the Big Horns:

 as by vv


That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Hilton Head and Pinckney Islands, South Carolina

Posted by graywacke on December 24, 2013

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2071; A Landing A Day blog post number 498.

 Dan –  I’m on quite the roll (8/9) with this USer landing in . . . SC; 19/22; 8/10; 148.2.  (Don’t have a clue what this sentence means?  Click HERE.)

 Here’s my regional landing map, showing I couldn’t be any more south and still be in SC:


My local landing map shows that I landed in a fairly significant waterway of some sort:


Zooming back a little, son of a gun if I didn’t land in the water right next to Hilton Head Island:


Zooming back even more, you can see that I landed in Skull Creek (and that I’m not too far from Savaannah):


My Google Earth  (GE) shot is as expected:


I wonder what that boater thought of the huge yellow push pin??  Zooming back:


Here’s a GE StreetView shot on the bridge, looking northeast towards my landing:


Hilton Head is, of course, known for golf courses:


And more golf courses:


I spent a week on Hilton Head five or six years back.  It’s very nice, but not my cup of tea.  It’s more or less a gated Disneyland for golfers.  You may get my drift:  I’m not going to feature the upscale touristy side of Hilton Head (which is almost the only side there is).

So, I’ll start with Pinckney Island (just west and north of my landing):


Here’s a lovely picture of Pinckney, from the US Fish & Wildlife Service (Eric Horan):

pinckney marsh by ERic Horan; us fish & wildlife service

From Wiki:

Analysis of the prehistoric sites on Pinckney Island indicate human occupation dating from 10,000 years ago, with intensive use 500 to 1000 years ago.

[And then came the white man.]

Beginning in 1804, the Pinckney family developed the islands into a plantation, removing much of the maritime forest and draining and tilling the fertile soil. By 1818, over 200 slaves labored to produce fine quality long-staple Sea Island Cotton; 386 slaves lived on the island by 1840.

The plantation flourished until the American Civil War, when it was occupied by Union troops.  US Army records reflect that black troops were recruited for the Union Army from the area. Five military (U.S. Colored Troops) headstones are located in a cemetery on the northwest side of Pinckney Island.

By the 1930s, the island was virtually abandoned. After several changes in ownership, in 1975 the island was donated to the US Fish and Wildlife Service  to be managed as a National Wildlife Refuge.

Although this video lacks quite a bit in production quality, it gives you a good feel for what Pinckney Island is like today (You Tube video by ln4359):

 The history of Hilton Head is essentially the same as Pinckney, but Wiki adds this:

It became an important base of operations for the Union blockade of the Southern ports during the Civil War. Once the island fell to Union troops, hundreds of ex-slaves flocked to Hilton Head, which is still home to many ‘native islanders’, many of whom are descendants of freed slaves known as the Gullah (or Geechee) who have managed to hold onto much of their ethnic and cultural identity.

 OK, so here’s a little info on the Gullah, from Wiki:

The Gullah are the descendants of enslaved Africans who live in the Lowcountry region of the US states of South Carolina and Georgia, which includes both the coastal plain and the Sea Islands.

The Gullah people and their language are also called Geechee, which some scholars speculate is related to the Ogeechee River near Savannah, Georgia. The term “Geechee” is an emic term used by speakers (and can have a derogatory connotation depending on usage).

 [more about “emic” in a minute]

“Gullah” is a term that was originally used to designate the language spoken by Gullah and Geechee people, but over time it has become a way for speakers to formally identify both their language and themselves as a distinctive group of people.

The Georgia communities further identify themselves as either “Saltwater Geechee” or “Freshwater Geechee” depending on their proximity to the coast.

The Gullah have preserved much of their African linguistic and cultural heritage. They speak an English-based creole language containing many African loanwords and significant influences from African languages in grammar and sentence structure.

Properly referred to as “Sea Island Creole,” the Gullah language is related to Jamaican Patois, Barbadian Dialect, Bahamian Dialect, Belizean Creole and the Krio language of Sierra Leone in West Africa. Gullah storytelling, cuisine, music, folk beliefs, crafts, farming and fishing traditions all exhibit strong influences from West and Central African cultures.

I found this You Tube video, posted by Chris Kirtley, where Melvyn Bragg explains how slaves developed their own version of the English language.  The video quality is a little off, but this is definitely worthwhile:

 OK, so I didn’t know what emic means.  (The quote from above is: The term “Geechee” is an emic term used by speakers.”)

Here’s what Wiki has to say:

Emic and etic are terms used by anthropologists and by others in the social and behavioral sciences to refer to two kinds of data concerning human behavior.

The emic approach investigates how local people think – how they perceive and categorize the world, their rules for behavior, what has meaning for them, and how they imagine and explain things.

The etic (scientist-oriented) approach shifts the focus from local perceptions to those of the anthropologist. The etic approach realizes that members of a culture often are too involved in what they are doing to interpret their cultures impartially. When using the etic approach, the ethnographer emphasizes what he or she considers important.

Enough, already.

I’ll close with the usual, some Panoramio photos.  All of Pinkney, all by Mr. Andrew Smith.  First, here’s a marsh at low tide:

 low tide in the marsh smith

Next, here’s a shot from the north end of Pinckney, looking towards Hilton Head.

tip of pinckney looking towards HH  Andrew Smith

Finally, here’s a path on Pinckney.

 path on pinckney by smith


That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Laredo, Texas

Posted by graywacke on December 21, 2013

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2070; A Landing A Day blog post number 497.

Dan –  I’m on a 7/8 roll with this USer landing in . . . TX; 151/182; 7/10; 1488.  Here’s my regional landing map:


My closer-in landing map shows that I’m quite a ways from Laredo (about 25 miles), but the closest towns (Hidalgo and Columbia) are in Mexico!


My Google Earth (GE) map shows a confused patchwork of man-made landscape scars:


My landing is totally in the arid boonies.  I’m not really sure what’s going on, but I assume it has to do with oil and gas.  Let me zoom out a little:


Doesn’t exactly look like oil and gas operations, but what else could it be?  After a little research, I found this, from Eagle Ford Shale dot com (Eagle Ford is an oil and gas bearing geologic formation):

Eagle Ford Shale dot com

My landing is just to the right of the number 10,000.  I assume the contour lines represent the depth of the Eagle Ford Formation, and the red dots are oil or gas wells.  Here’s a little of the write-up from the website:

Webb County is now targeted for the liquids-rich nature of the Eagle Ford formation in the northern parts of the county.  Much of the county will be prospective for shale gas or simply dry gas as natural gas prices may improve above the $4 level. The county is part of the southern extreme of the play that borders Mexico.  Activity in the county is focused in northwest portion of the county where wells produce rich gas and the formation is found at depths of 8,000 ft to 10,000 ft.

Sure ‘nuf.

 I had some trouble identifying my watershed (on a more local level than the Rio Grande).  Here’s a GE shot showing that there’s a stream (located just west of the yellow line), that runs almost due south for 15 miles from my landing, finally discharging into the Rio Grande:


 I think that the stream is the Santa Isabelle Ck (based on extremely sketchy identification in my StreetAtlas program).  As stated above, the Santa Isabelle flows to the Rio Grande (40th hit).

Here’s a GE StreetView shot from a road that crosses the Santa Isabelle just upstream from the Rio Grande:


So, Laredo’s a pretty big town (pop 236,000), which makes it the 10th largest city in Texas (behind Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, El Paso, Arlington, Corpus Christi and Plano).  For what it’s worth, I would have put Dallas before San Antonio, and I never would have thought of Arlington and Plano.  Laredo is also the third-largest border town (behind San Diego and El Paso).  That said, I’m having a very tough time coming up with a hook.  I saw in Wiki that Laredo claims seven flags, not just the usual six flags over Texas.

 OK.  Six flags over Texas, eh?  What six flags?

 Spain (more specifically the Flag of Castille (1519 – 1685 and 1690 – 1821):


France (more specifically the Bourbonne Royal Standard, the Royal Banner of the Kingdom of France, (1685 – 1689)


Mexico (1821 – 1836)


Republic of Texas (1836 – 1845)

republic of texas

USA  (1846 – 1861)


Confederate States of America (1861 – 1865)


It turns out that Laredo (and parts of far South Texas) can also claim a seventh flag, the flag of the Republic of the Rio Grande (January – Nov 1840).  This flag is today’s City of Laredo flag:

republic of the rio grande

Here’s what Wiki has to say about the Republic of Rio Grande:

The Republic of the Rio Grande was an independent nation that insurgents against the Central Mexican Government sought to establish in northern Mexico. The rebellion lasted from January 17 to November 6, 1840 and the Republic of the Rio Grande was never officially recognized.

I’ll be honest.  There’s quite the tangled history of northern Mexico from 1836 through 1845.  I just don’t have the patience (or inclination) to sort out the relationship between the Republic of the Rio Grande, Mexico and the Republic of Texas.  Here’s a map showing the confused landscape of that era:


In a nutshell (a very small nutshell), Mexico broke away from Spain in 1821, with Santa Anna in charge.  His dictatorial style didn’t sit well with everyone, especially the outlying northern states (including Texas).  In 1835 – 1836, open warfare broke out (including the Battle of the Alamo); but on April 16, 1836, the Independent Republic of Texas was born.  In 1845, Texas was annexed by the United States, which led to additional strife with Mexico (the Mexican Wars of 1846 – 1848).

 There’s a ton of history here; anyone wanting to learn more can just start Googling . . .

Moving right along.  As a kid I remember the song “The Streets of Laredo.”  Here’s a classic Johnny Cash rendition (with the lyrics following):

As I walked out on the streets of Laredo.
As I walked out on Laredo one day,
I spied a young cowboy wrapped in white linen,
Wrapped in white linen as cold as the clay.

“I can see by your outfit that you are a cowboy.”
These words he did say as I boldly walked by.
“Come an’ sit down beside me an’ hear my sad story.
“I’m shot in the breast an’ I know I must die.”

“It was once in the saddle, I used to go dashing.
“Once in the saddle, I used to go gay.
“First to the card-house and then down to Rose’s.
“But I’m shot in the breast and I’m dying today.”

“Get six jolly cowboys to carry my coffin.
“Six dance-hall maidens to bear up my pall.
“Throw bunches of roses all over my coffin.
“Roses to deaden the clods as they fall.”

“Then beat the drum slowly, play the Fife lowly.
“Play the dead march as you carry me along.
“Take me to the green valley, lay the sod o’er me,
“I’m a young cowboy and I know I’ve done wrong.”

“Then go write a letter to my grey-haired mother,
“An’ tell her the cowboy that she loved has gone.
“But please not one word of the man who had killed me.
“Don’t mention his name and his name will pass on.”

When thus he had spoken, the hot sun was setting.
The streets of Laredo grew cold as the clay.
We took the young cowboy down to the green valley,
And there stands his marker, we made, to this day.

We beat the drum slowly and played the Fife lowly,
Played the dead march as we carried him along.
Down in the green valley, laid the sod o’er him.
He was a young cowboy and he said he’d done wrong.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that it was a Kingston Trio knockoff (entitled Laredo?) that I actually remember:

As I walked out in the streets of Laredo
As I walked out in Laredo one day.
I spied a young cowboy dressed in white linen
Dressed in white linen and cold as the clay.

I can see by your outfit that you are a cowboy
You can see by my outfit I’m a cowboy, too.
You can see by our outfits that we are both cowboys.
Get yourself an outfit and be a cowboy, too!

I’m going to close with a series of Panoramio photos shot by J Jesus Perez.  These photos were taken about 10 miles north of my landing, starting with a roadrunner (beep beep):

 jj mr roadrunner

This one,  of a Spanish Dagger:

jj spanish dagger

Here’s one of a “biznagas.”

jj biznagas

I’ll close with “un dia de primavera”  (a day in springtime):

jj un dia de primavera

That’ll do it.



© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Posted by graywacke on December 16, 2013

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2069; A Landing A Day blog post number 496.

Dan –  I’m digging down a little deeper into the 140’s thanks to this USer landing in . . . LA; 34/35; 6/10; 149.3.  Here’s my regional landing map:


My local shows that I landed on the north end of Baton Rouge, near the airport (the big gray X just east of my landing):


Here’s my Google Earth (GE) shot, showing that I landed on the grounds of some sort of large facility:


A closer in look shows that I actually landed on a basketball court!  See the shadows of the hoops at each end?


And yes, I have a GE StreetView shot from the road right next to the basketball court:


Oh oh.  Is that razor wire along the top of the fence?  Well, here’s another StreetView shot from a little further up the road:


So I landed on a prison basketball court.  Well, there’s a first time for everything!

 Backing up a little, here’s a shot of my landing and the airport:


And right in front of the airport is a little stream, which is where a drop of water that lands in the prison would end up (if it doesn’t go into some storm sewer that redirects it to Lord knows where):


That little stream is actually the Monte Sano Bayou.  As you can see on this map, the Monte Sano actually discharges right into the Mighty Mississippi (814th hit):


Here’s a GE shot of where the Monte Sano Bayou flows into the Mississippi:


Scenic little spot, eh?  The facility towards the top of the photo is owned by my ex-employer, ExxonMobil.  They own a huge piece of real estate (that happens to have a refinery on it) that goes on and on and on downriver for more than two miles:


 Before moving on, let me note that I’ve flown in and out of the Baton Rouge airport a couple of times (for trips to Jazz Fest in New Orleans when all of the flights to New Orleans were sold out).  So, I think that I can officially say that I’ve been closer to this landing than any other!  Oh oh.  Wait a minute.  On second thought, I remember a North Philly landing . . .

 Ah yes – take a look at this Google Earth (GE) shot of landing # 9 (April 13, 1999):

 GE NE Philly

I landed a mere 700 feet from the Amtrak Northeast Corridor tracks.  Although it didn’t happen often, I’m absolutely sure I took Amtrak from Philly to NY at least a couple of times . .

 So, I’ll backtrack a little and say that today’s landing marks the second closest I have physically been to one of my landings.  Oh oh.  Wait a minute.  On third thought, I remember a coastal NJ landing . . .

 Ah yes – take a look at this GE shot of landing # 503 (August 3, 2004).  My landing is just off of Brandt Beach on Long Beach Island. 

GE Brandt Beach

Now, Long Beach Island has been a go-to spot for me for decades.  And yes, I have been in a boat following the channel markers for the intracoastal waterway.  That means, I was only a couple of hundred feet (at most) from this landing!

 So, I’ll backtrack once again and say that today’s landing marks the third closest I have physically been to one of my landings.  (Phew, I just checked out another NJ landing, and it was more than a mile off Route 202, which I have frequently traveled.)

 OK.  True confessions.  Upon further reflection, I remembered that if I land close to an Interstate highway, I usually note it on my landing spreadsheet.  So, I did a search for “I-“ and son of a gun if I didn’t find a few more close encounters (as close or closer than today’s half-mile miss of the airport):

 Landing 1164 (May 22, 2007) was a little less than a half mile south of I-95 in Connecticut (between Stamford & Darien).  Of course I’ve driven on I-95 in Connecticut!

 Landing 1499 (August 15, 2008) was only about a quarter mile west of I-380 in Pennsylvania.  I-380 is a spur of I‑80 that connects Scranton to I-80.  I’ve been on that road many times as well. . . .

 Landing 1918 (August 22, 2010) was about a half mile east of I-95 in way-upstate Maine.  Once, just once, I drove that section of I-95 on my way to Nova Scotia . . .

 Phew.  I think that’s a complete listing of landings within a half mile of where I’ve been.  Moving right along . . .

 I stumbled on something of minor geologic interest:  I landed just north of an active geologic fault!  Come on, I’m a geologist, and I would never guess that a fault (and associated earthquakes) would happen here.  Anyway, here’s the cover of a geologic report about the faults:

 scotlandville fault cover

Check out the crack in the land and the buildings!  Of particular interest is the Scotlandville Fault, as the general neighborhood of the Airport and prison is known as Scotlandville.  Here’s a map, where you can see my landing, the airport and (drum roll please) the Scotlandville Fault.

 scotlandville fault map

The “U” stands for “up.”   I’ll let you figure out what the “D” stands for.  Man, those geologists and their complex terminology!

 Anyway, there was an earthquake in 1958 in Baton Rouge.  Here’s what the US Geologic Survey has to say about it:

 On November 19, 1958, a local earthquake in the Baton Rouge area shook houses and rattled windows. Scores of residents telephoned the Weather Bureau, Civil Defense, police and radio stations.

Moving right along . . . no visit to Baton Rouge would be complete with discussing the name of the City.  Digging deeply into my extensive French vocab, I can figure out that Baton Rouge can be translated “Red Stick.”  According to Wiki, here’s the story:

 The European-American history of Baton Rouge dates from 1699, when French explorer Sieur d’Iberville lead an exploration party up the Mississippi River.  His party saw a reddish cypress pole festooned with dead animals that marked the boundary between the Houma and Bayou Goula tribal hunting grounds. They called the pole and its location le bâton rouge, or the red stick. The local Native American name for the site was Istrouma, which also translates to “red stick.”

Louisiana has two of the more unique State Capital buildings (located, of course, in Baton Rouge).  Here’s a Panoramio picture of the “Old State Capitol,” by K.L. Burgess.

 pano KLBurgess old capital 

Here’s some verbiage from LouisianaOldStateCapital.org:

 In 1847, Baton Rouge lured Louisiana’s capital away from the city of New Orleans with the donation of a plot of land high on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi. Architect James Harrison Dakin (1806-1852), a New York native with a thriving practice in New Orleans, was retained to design the new capitol building.

The building’s construction started in 1847 and ended in 1852, the same year as Dakin’s death.

The statehouse served as the seat of Louisiana government until 1862 when Union troops captured Baton Rouge.  Fleeing Union troops, Louisiana legislators abandoned the building in which they had voted to secede from the Union in 1861. The building was used as a Union prison and garrison until December 28, 1862 when the interior of the building was destroyed due to an accidental fire started by Union soldiers.

The ruined interior was completely reconstructed in 1882.

Here’s a Panoramio shot (by Parrot Head Tim) of the “new” State Capitol building:

ParrotHeadTim Pano new capital

From the State Tourism website, here’s some info about the “new” capital building:

 What began as the dream of one man – Huey P. Long – became a symbol of the pride, the history and the spirit of Louisiana’s people.

To construct a State Capitol Building during the 1930s, the time of the Great Depression, was an idea only a powerful politician could have made a reality.

A special session of the legislature was called to vote on the amendment that would provide the funding for construction. The first vote fell four votes short of the two-thirds majority that was needed. The Speaker of the House ordered a rollcall vote and, while the list of names was read, Governor Long, standing in the back of the chamber, had time to encourage a few legislators to vote in favor of his building. The vote passed and the funding was approved.

In 1935, the Louisiana State Capitol Building was the site of Huey P. Long’s assassination. Senator Long was buried on the grounds and his statue faces the Capitol.

What!?!?  Huey Long was assassinated in the State Capitol building!  I’ve been vaguely aware of him, but confess that I didn’t know he was assassinated.  Time for a little research.  First, here’s a 1935 Time Magazine cover featuring Huey:

 time mag

From HueyLong.com:

 HUEY LONG (1893-1935) was Louisiana’s legendary populist Governor, U.S. Senator and favorite son. Poised to run for president on his “Share Our Wealth” platform, Long was assassinated in 1935 at the age of 42.

Long was revered by the masses as a champion of the common man and demonized by the powerful as a dangerous demagogue.

Here are some themes that defined the man:

Share the Wealth:  A vocal critic of corporate greed and government incompetence, Huey Long’s “Share Our Wealth” political movement swept the nation during the Great Depression, garnering millions of supporters and threatening the re-election of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The Kingfish:  Huey Long was known as “the Kingfish”, a take-charge problem solver who delivered immediate relief to the suffering and powerless. As Governor, he used strong-arm tactics to break political gridlock and cut red tape. He took Washington by storm as the most outspoken U.S. Senator.

Programs:  Huey Long launched a vast program of modernization and reform in Louisiana — building roads, bridges and vital infrastructure, providing free public education to children of all races, expanding LSU, expanding voting rights and healthcare, and lowering taxes on the poor majority.

Philosophy:  Huey Long believed that government should protect and uplift its most vulnerable citizens and provide opportunity for everyone, regardless of race or class. He broke the monopoly on power held by the ruling elite and their corporate backers and transformed Louisiana politics.

Legacy:  Huey Long transformed the public’s perception of the role of government in a democratic society. Some of our most cherished government institutions — from social security to veterans benefits, student financial aid to public works projects — were causes championed by Huey Long.

Quite the interesting guy, eh?  

I’m a fan of singer/songwriter Randy Newman, and know his song “The Kingfish” (about Huey Long, obviously).  Here ‘tis, with the words following:


There’s a hundred thousand Frenchmen in New Orleans
In New Orleans there are Frenchmen everywhere
But your house could fall down
Your baby could drown
Wouldn’t none of those Frenchmen care

Everybody gather ’round
Loosen up your suspenders
Hunker down on the ground
I’m a cracker
And you are too
But don’t I take good care of you

Who built the highway to Baton Rouge?
Who put up the hospital and built you schools?
Who looks after shit-kickers like you?
The Kingfish do

Who gave a party at the Roosevelt Hotel?
And invited the whole north half of the state down there for free
The people in the city
Had their eyes bugging out
Cause everyone of you
Looked just like me

Kingfish, Kingfish
Everybody sing
Kingfish, Kingfish
Every man a king

Who took on the Standard Oil men
And whipped their ass
Just like he promised he’d do?
Ain’t no Standard Oil men gonna run this state
Gonna be run by little folks like me and you

Kingfish, Kingfish
Friend of the working man
Kingfish, Kingfish
The Kingfish gonna save this land

I’ll close with a couple of Panoramio shots.  First, this shot by “National Travel” from north Baton Rouge looking south down the river:

 pano national travel

Here’s an artsy shot of the same two bridges (by Cody Sewell):

 pano cody sewell


That’ll do it.





© 2013 A Landing A Day

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Streator, Illinois

Posted by graywacke on December 11, 2013

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2068; A Landing A Day blog post number 495.

Dan –  Well, son of a gun if my Score hasn’t once again dipped below 150, thanks to this USer landing in . . . IL; 38/38; 5/10; 149.9.  And note the 38/38.  That’s right, Illinois is PS (perfectly subscribed).  Click HERE to see what 149.9, 38/38 & PS are all about.

 Here’s my regional landing map:


My local landing shows that I landed between two very small towns, Long Point & Ancona, but just a few miles south of a more substantial town, Streator:


Inexplicably, my version of StreetAtlas wouldn’t show the name “Streator.”  I had to add it using MS Paint.  Anyway, you can see the Vermilion River on the above map.  Here’s a more detailed streams-only map, showing that I landed in the Prairie Creek watershed, which flows to the Vermilion.  In spite of 38 landings in Illinois, this is my first landing in the Vermilion watershed.


This more regional waterways map shows that the Vermilion flows to the Illinois R (19th hit); on to the MM (813th hit).


My Google Earth (GE) shot shows an expectedly rural agricultural setting:


Note the regular clearings located here and there along the edge of the fields?  I assume that they’re oil wells (or where oil wells used to be or where they will be).

 Here’s a StreetView shot taken from road intersection located just southeast of my landing.  We’re looking past one of the oil pads towards my landing (and obviously, I landed in the middle of a cornfield):


Moving on to my local towns . . .

 I could find absolutely nothing about Ancona, and precious little about Long Point.  What I found out is that back in the day, this area of Illinois was for the most part open prairie, with the only forested areas being along streams.  Well, it turns out that there was a “long point” of woods that spread west from the Vermilion River, following (what else) Long Point Creek (which you can see on my streams only landing map). 

 Here’s a GE shot, showing Long Point, Long Point Creek and the Vermilion River.  I’m sure that back in the day, the forests along the creeks and rivers were much more extensive:

GE Long Point

Streator (pop 13,500) is obviously the big kid on the block.  But only one thing really caught my eye about Streator:  it was the hometown of Clyde Tombaugh.  Who’s Clyde Tombaugh, you’re probably wondering.  Well, read on.  From Wiki:

 Clyde Tombaugh (1906 – 1997) was born in Streator, Illinois.  After his family moved to Kansas, Tombaugh’s plans for attending college were frustrated when a hailstorm ruined his family’s farm crops.  Starting at age 20, he built several telescopes with lenses and mirrors he ground himself.  He sent drawings of Jupiter and Mars to the Lowell Observatory, which offered him a job. Tombaugh worked there from 1929 to 1945.

While at the Lowell Observatory, he was given the job of finding “Planet X,” which Lowell had speculated was a ninth planet located beyond Neptune.

 [He ended up discovering Pluto; more about his discovery later . . .]

Following his discovery of Pluto, Tombaugh earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in astronomy from the University of Kansas in 1936 and 1938.  During World War II he taught naval personnel navigation at Northern Arizona University.  He worked at White Sands Missile Range in the early 1950s, and taught astronomy at New Mexico State University from 1955 until his retirement in 1973.

I stumbled on an excellent 1998 article in The Atlantic by David Freedman.  I lifted some excerpts (definitely worth the read):

In addition to being out of place among the planets in terms of size, Pluto has always seemed conceptually lost as well. The four innermost planets are rocky and of modest size; the next four are gas giants. What was a lone, tiny ice ball doing way out at the edge of the solar system? A surprising answer has emerged over the past few years. Pluto, it turns out, is one of innumerable small, comet-like objects in a belt (the Kuiper Belt) that extends far beyond the confines of the planets.

The famous “search for Planet X,” which culminated in Pluto’s discovery, was the pet project of Percival Lowell, an amateur astronomer who around the turn of the century became obsessed with two notions: that Martians had constructed canals on the surface of their planet, and that tiny, gravity-induced wiggles in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune indicated that a planet with a mass some six times that of Earth lay farther out.

Lowell built and endowed an impressive observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, to prove himself right, but he died in 1916 without having succeeded on either count. The observatory’s directors, aware that their institution was something of a laughingstock because of the Martian search, were determined to salvage its reputation by finding the at least marginally less improbable Planet X.

They hired a young amateur astronomer by the name of Clyde Tombaugh to do the grunt work involved. Tombaugh proved to be resourceful and diligent beyond all reasonable expectations, and more or less single-handedly picked dim Pluto out of a thick field of stars—a feat that is still considered one of the most impressive in the history of observational astronomy.

Though some leading astronomers of the day, along with Tombaugh himself, suspected from the beginning that the newly discovered object was not the massive Planet X of Lowell’s fancy, the observatory directors launched a public-relations blitz designed to link the two inextricably in the public’s mind, and also minimized the opportunities for other astronomers to gather contradictory evidence. The observatory withheld news of the discovery for nearly a month, until the seventy-fifth anniversary of Lowell’s birth—even while its orbit was carrying Pluto away from clear observability

After the announcement the observatory refused for six weeks more to release the details needed to find Pluto. Lowell’s name and prediction were plastered all over the observatory’s press releases, though Tombaugh was barely mentioned, and only in later releases. After briefly considering naming the new object for Lowell or his widow, the observatory chose the name Pluto, largely because a symbol for it—PL—could be fashioned out of Percival Lowell’s initials.

In the ensuing euphoria over the apparent discovery of a new planet (elation was especially pronounced in the United States, where the public was happy to welcome the first “American” planet to the solar system), those voices that questioned Pluto’s size were drowned out, and the International Astronomical Union awarded Pluto official planet status.

It wasn’t an entirely unreasoned decision. As the observatory argued, Pluto had been found close to where Lowell had predicted Planet X ought to be if it was causing those orbital wiggles (though Tombaugh, skeptical of Lowell’s predictions, hadn’t focused his search on that area), so it would be quite a coincidence if this new object wasn’t the enormous Planet X. Besides, if the object was small, it shouldn’t have been visible at all so far away from Earth.

Unless, that is, this new object happened to have a highly reflective icy surface, like that of a comet—which eventually proved to be the case. Pluto is much too small to account for the wiggles on which Lowell had based his predictions. Not that that matters, for there were no wiggles—the observations that had implied them were erroneous. And even if there had been wiggles, they probably wouldn’t have led astronomers to Planet X, because Lowell’s calculations were dubious at best. It was sheer coincidence that Pluto happened to be at the predicted spot. And so it was on a staircase of mistakes, hubris, and hype that Pluto was elevated to planethood.

 To read the entire article (which is excellent), click HERE.

 To show you what Clyde saw, here are pictures taken six days apart of a teeny section of starry sky.  Stars remain stationery relative to one another, but planets (“wandering star” in ancient Greek) do not:


The above photos were lifted from a York University (Toronto) website.

 Anyway, the 1998 Atlantic article preceded by eight years the actual decision to de-planetize Pluto and make it a “dwarf planet.”  Here’s a cool video produced by UniverseToday.com that addresses the “Pluto’s not a planet” issue:


 I have yet to mention that the name “Pluto” comes from Greek mythology, where Pluto is the god of the underworld.  In Greek mythology, there were three realms with corresponding gods:

 The Heavens:              Zeus

The Sea:                      Poseiden

The Underworld:        Pluto

 At first, I was wondering what happened to the god of, well, you know, land.  Like where we live all the time.  Then, when I thought about it, I realized that the three realms above are all three dimensional, and they include EVERYTHING.  The surface of the land loses out, being only two dimensional – it’s just the interface between the realms of Zeus and Pluto.

 So, go to some ocean beach on a calm day (at low tide so there’s lots of shallow water).  Wade out into the shallow water, scrunch your feet down into the sand . . . and voila!  You’re in all three realms at the same time!

 Speaking of Pluto . . .

 pluto disney

I’ll close with a GE Panoramio shot (by Ric Swett) of a funky old barnish sort of structure on the road south os Streator (I’m a city boy, so I don’t know how this barn functioned . . .):

 Ric Swett 3 mi NE, looking n towards Streator


That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Eleanor, West Virginia

Posted by graywacke on December 7, 2013

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2067; A Landing A Day blog post number 494.

Dan –  Gee whiz.  I was right on the verge of having my Score head back down into the 140s, but was foiled by landing in this OSer state . . . WV; 20/16; 4/10; 150.5.  This is a familiar pattern; click HERE to read the post that explains what I’m talking about . . .

 Anyway, here’s my regional landing map:


My closer-in landing map shows that I landed near a bunch of river towns, including Eleanor:


Hmmmm.  River towns, eh?  What river?  Well, here’s my streams-only map:


You can see that I landed in the watershed of Manila Creek, which flows to the Pocatalico River (a new river for me!); on to the Kanawha (the big river next to Eleanor, 12th hit); on to the Ohio R (128th hit); to the Mighty Mississippi (812th hit).

 Here’s my Google Earth (GE) shot, which shows that I landed near the top of a wooded hill, out in the boonies:


See the cleared hilltop on the right side of the photo?  Here’s a better view:


It looks like some sort of nursery or orchard with greenhouses.  It certainly doesn’t have an elegant (or commercial) entrance off the paved road.  (The entrance is the dirt road off to the right).


GE feels like it must put that stupid thick white line down the middle of the road.  Anyway, moving right along to Eleanor.  From Wiki:

 Eleanor (pop 1,518) is a town along the Kanawha River.  Eleanor was established in 1934, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited Putnam County and developed the town with a focus on housing young families (typically displaced coal miners). Obviously, it was named for Mrs. Roosevelt.

It was one of three resettlement communities in West Virginia, the others being Arthurdale and Tygart Valley. When the town was developed, the houses were built to look very similar to one another and are now referred to as old Eleanor houses.

Like other Franklin D. Roosevelt towns around the nation, it was a “sundown town”, for whites only.

Say what!?!  A town founded by the government for whites only!?!  I’ll have to roll up my sleeves and do a little research . . .

But first, here’s a GE StreetView shot of what I assume are some “Eleanor Houses” in Eleanor:

GE eleanor houses

 I started my research with Arthurdale (mentioned above as another Roosevelt community in West Virginia).  The Wiki entry for Arthurdale provides more information about the program (and Eleanor’s involvement) as well as information about “whites only.”  (Note that all of the Wiki articles I used were well referenced . . . )

 Arthurdale was the first of many New Deal planned communities established under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration.  It was intended to take impoverished laborers, farmers, and coal miners and move them to a modern rural community that would allow them to become economically self-sufficient.

While Eleanor Roosevelt saw Arthurdale as an exciting new chance for the government to provide destitute citizens with the foundation for successful, self-sufficient lives, the project soon faltered on budgetary and political grounds. The cost of constructing and maintaining the Arthurdale community far exceeded what the government had anticipated and the idea of federally planned communities had never sat well with conservatives.

Though the Roosevelts had hoped for a racially mixed community, the first residents insisted on limiting membership to white Christians. After losing a community vote on the issue, Roosevelt recommended the creation of other communities for the excluded black and Jewish miners.  The experience motivated Roosevelt to become much more outspoken on the issue of racial discrimination.  (And maybe had something to do with the founding of a New Deal Jewish town in NJ.  More about that later.)

By the late 1930s, Arthurdale had lost support in much of Washington, and even though Eleanor Roosevelt had chosen it as her pet project, she could not dissuade Congress and the president’s cabinet from abandoning it. Roosevelt herself was “deeply disillusioned” by a visit to the community in 1940, in which she observed that the community had become increasingly dependent on government and lacking in independent initiative

I’m not surprised the overall concept was a failure, but isn’t it fascinating that the town could vote to make itself “Christian whites only.”  I’m relieved to learn that the Roosevelts were opposed to such blatant racism.  Time for some more research . . .

 And now this, from Wiki on “Sundown Towns:”

A sundown town was a town, city or neighborhood in the US that was purposely all-white. The term came from signs that were posted stating that people of color had to leave the town by sundown. They are also sometimes known as “sunset towns” or “gray towns.”

In some cases, signs were placed at the town’s borders.  In others, the exclusion was official town policy or through restrictive covenants agreed to by the real estate agents of the community.  Or, the policy was enforced through intimidation. This intimidation could occur in a number of ways, including harassment by law enforcement officers.

Since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and especially since the Civil Rights Act of 1968 prohibiting racial discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing, the number of sundown towns has greatly decreased.

Getting back to the Roosevelt angle, a number of “Greenbelt” towns were also New Deal towns.  Check out this, about Greenbelt MD:

 Greenbelt was settled in 1937 as a public cooperative community in the New Deal Era. The concept was at the same time both eminently practical and idealistically utopian: the federal government would foster an “ideal” self-sufficient cooperative community that would also ease the pressing housing shortage near the nation’s capital. Construction of the new town would also create jobs and thus help stimulate the national economic recovery following the Great Depression.

 Greenbelt, which provided affordable housing for federal government workers, was one of three “green” towns planned in 1935. The two other green towns are Greendale, Wisconsin (near Milwaukee) and Greenhills, Ohio (near Cincinnati).  A fourth green town, Roosevelt, New Jersey (originally called Homestead), was not fully developed on the same large scale as Greenbelt.

 Blacks were initially excluded, but were welcomed by the Greenbelt Committee for Fair Housing founded in 1963, and came to number 41% of residents according to the 2000 census.

 Phew.  “Blacks were initially excluded.” 

 Moving right along, I noted the reference to Roosevelt NJ.  I know Roosevelt NJ!  I’ve been involved in environmental projects there (our company removed numerous leaking underground oil tanks there).  Anyway, I knew it was a Jewish-Utopian-Government-supported experiment of some type, but now I have an excuse to look into a little more. 

 From Wiki, about a 1983 documentary film, “Visions of Utopia:”

 The film explores the story of Roosevelt NJ, an independent, rural community of Jews, which was developed on socialist principles and the belief that rural fresh air would benefit the working class population of New York City. It’s a modern-day utopia that didn’t quite come true.

During the Great Depression, President Roosevelt supported an order to transfer New York’s downstate garment workers to the NJ countryside.  Its purpose was to bring serenity and a farm type lifestyle to a select group of the urban industrial workforce.

The program was met with huge demand by impoverished factory workers looking for an improved way of life. Workers arrived in full force to take on the opportunity to fill out application forms for the project. Those selected worked together to build a community from scratch. Fields filled with mud were quickly transformed into pristine living spaces, with previously-unsettled lands now hosting avant-garde architecture. This particular environment allowed community, creativity and entrepreneurship to flourish.

“There was such freedom about friendship,” a woman resident boasted, “you could walk into people’s houses and just sit down and enjoy an evening; we loved it — life here was just wonderful.” In the face of mounting anti-Semitism abroad, Jersey Homesteads represented hope for Jews everywhere.

Despite a start full of promise, the experiment ultimately failed when the federal government withdrew funding in 1939 in response to mounting tension in the community.

“I think we learned that Utopias don’t seem to work out because people are not that unselfish,” one man laments.

OK.  So maybe this was the driest A Landing A Day post in quite some time.  But I for one learned some things about the New Deal I hadn’t known (and one can see why conservatives were nervous).  Also, the formal, institutionalized racism back in the day is sobering, indeed.

 I’ll close in my traditional manner, with some Panoramio photos lifted from Google Earth.  Here’s a rural roadway scene (Route 62 east of Eleanor), by SeanRose.com:

SeanRose.com looking down route 62 near Red House

 Here are two pictures (by Chris65) of the view from the bridge over the Kanawha between Eleanor and Winfield:

 view from bridge, chris65


 view from bridge (2), chris65

That’ll do it.





© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Carthage, Texas

Posted by graywacke on December 3, 2013

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2066; A Landing A Day blog post number 493.

Dan –  Wow.  Four USers  in a row and on the verge of breaking back down into the 140s, thanks to this landing in . . . TX; 150/181; 4/10; 150.1.  Here’s my regional landing map:


My local landing map shows my proximity to (where else?), Carthage:


Here’s my streams-only map:


As is evident, I landed in the watershed of Irons Bayou, which flows to the Sabine R (17th hit).  As you may or may not know, the Sabine spends quite a bit of its course as the boundary between TX & LA.  But, as you can see by checking out the following map, this happens a bit south of my landing:


Here’s my Google Earth (GE) shot, showing (as the Carthage website proudly proclaims) that Carthage is “nestled deep in the piney woods of East Texas.” 

 GE 1

Carthage also declares itself the “Gas Capital” of the United States.  See all of those little clearings in the woods?   Gas wells. . . .

 In fact, Carthage is home to the annual “East Texas Oil & Gas Blast,” which includes (to quote the Carthage website): “Live Music All Day. Door Prizes. Free Children’s Area. Arts & Crafts Vendors. Car Show. Baking Contest. Costume Contest. Lots of Fun!”

 But the big story in Carthage TX is country music.  In fact, Carthage is the home of the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.  From Wiki:


The Texas Country Music Hall of Fame, formerly the Tex Ritter Museum, honors those who have made outstanding contributions to country music and were born in the state of Texas. In the center of the exhibit area, a replica of a 1930s theater marquee reminds visitors of the role of country music in film. A juke box nearby allows visitors to select the country songs that they wish to hear played while touring the museum.

The marquee serves as the entrance to the Tex Ritter Museum. A native of Carthage, Ritter was one of the first singers inducted into the hall of fame when it was established in 1998. There is also a museum exhibit on Ritter’s son, John Ritter.

Just a quick word about John Ritter.  He was the star of TV’s “Three’s Company,” which I more-or-less regularly watched from 1977 – 1984.  He played Jack Ritter, who platonically shared an apartment with two gorgeous young women. 


He tragically died of heart problems at age 54 in 2003. 

 Before moving on to John’s dad Tex, it turns out that a second Country Music legend was born in Carthage:  Jim Reeves.  From Wiki:

 Jim Reeves (1923 – 1964) was acountry music singer-songwriter. With records charting from the 1950s to the 1980s, he became well known as a practitioner of the Nashville sound (a mixture of older country-style music with elements of popular music). Known as “Gentleman Jim”, his songs continued to chart for years after his death. Reeves died in the crash of a private airplane that he was piloting. He is a member of both the Country Music and Texas Country Music Halls of Fame.


I’ll be honest:  Jim’s a ballad crooner; a little too smooth (and corny) for my taste.  I spent some time on YouTube, looking for one of his songs that I actually liked, and came up with Billy Bayou:


 “Billy Bayou” has a grand total of 590 views on You Tube.  This compares with “Welcome to my World” (obviously a much more mainstream Jim Reeves song) with over two million views:


 Now, moving on to Tex Ritter.  From Wiki:

 Woodward Maurice Ritter (1905 – 1974), much better known as Tex Ritter, was an American country music singer and movie actor popular from the mid-1930s into the 1960s.


Tex is much more to my taste.  In fact, before my landing, I had heard of him, but knew nothing of him or his music.  Now, I’m a total Tex Ritter fan!!!

I’m going to start with a hilarious song about booze and drunkenness –  the kind of song that just wouldn’t make it today. 

 The words are below, so you can read along:


 Jack o’ Diamond, Jack o’ Diamond and I know you of old
You’ve-a robbed-a my poor pockets of silver and gold
It’s a whiskey, you villain, you’ve-a been my downfall
You’ve kicked me, you’ve cuffed me, but I love you for all

And it’s a whiskey, rye whiskey, whiskey I cry
If I don’t get rye whiskey, well, I think I will die

Oooh ah  ooooh, etc. etc.

It’s a-beefsteak when I’m hungry rye whiskey when I’m dry
Greenback when I’m hard up, heaven when I die
I’ll-a go to yonder holler, and I’ll build me a still
I’ll give you a gallon for a five dollar bill

Whiskey, rye whiskey, whiskey, I cry
If a tree don’t fall on me, I’ll live ‘til I die

Oooooh ah ooooh, etc. etc.

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck
I’d dive to the bottom and never come hup (I meant to say “up”)
Now the ocean ain’t whiskey, I ain’t a duck
I’ll play Jack o’ Diamond and trust to my luck

Whiskey, rye whiskey, whiskey I cry
If the whiskey don’t kill me, I’ll live ‘til I die

Ooooh, etc.

Here’s a funny clip (from the 1936 movie “Song of the Gringo”) featuring Rye Whiskey, which you can watch if you’ve a mind to . . .

Then I stumbled on “Froggy Went a Courtin” and just loved it.  I searched high and low for the lyrics, but couldn’t find the words that fit this You Tube version.  So I did the best I could  (all of the “fee fime oh” versus were all transcribed by me!)

 Anyway, here it comes . . . (said with an exaggerated hillbilly accent) . . the pee-ess  de ree-sis-tunce.


Froggy went a-courtin’ an-a he did ride, uh, huh
Froggy went a-courtin’ an-a he did ride, oh, hoh
Froggy went a-courtin’ an-a he did ride
Sword and a pistol by his side
Uh, huh . . . hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm

Well he went up to Miss-a Mousie’s door and a hoh and a hey and a hoh and a hey
Went up to Miss-a Mousie’s door, hoh
Went up-a to Miss-a Mousie’s door
She said get away you been here before,
Uh, huh . . . ohmmm, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm

Fee Fime Oh in the land of fear of Pharaoh
Come a rattrap, pennywinkle, tom o’doodle, rattle bugger rattrap
Penny won’t you kime be, oh.

Took a-Missa Mousie on his knee, uh, huh
Took a-Missa Mousie on his knee, oh
Took a-Missa Mousie on his knee
Well he said Miss Mousie, ‘Will you marry me’
Uh, huh,  hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm.

Little piece of corn bread a-lyin’ on the shelf and a hoh and a hey and a hoh and a hey
Little piece of corn bread a-lyin’ on the shelf, uh, huh
Little piece of corn bread a-lyin’ on the shelf
If you want anymore you can sing it yourself
Uh, huh, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm

Fee Fime Oh in the land of fear of Pharaoh
Come a rattrap, pennywinkle, tom o’doodle, rattle bugger rattrap
Penny won’t you kime be, oh.

Kimbo kymbo hey-ho gee-roh
Hey come a rattrap, pollywinkle lolly bugger rattrap
Penny won’t you kime be, oh.

I LOVE THIS!   I’ve listened to it 20 times.  I made sure I got the lyrics just right. . .

 So this old froggy song is an old folk song, and I mean old.  Wiki (and other sources) have it as a Scottish folk song originating in 1548.

 The song usually has some verses about Miss Mousee getting permission from Uncle Rat, but Tex decided to have none of that.  The song has been covered by countless artists, including Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Burl Ives, the Brothers Four, Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, and Bob Dylan.

 I’ll close with this Panoramio shot (by RGRiff3471) of the Sabine River, taken about 5 miles north of my landing:

 sabine river rgriff3471

That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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